If you’re finding that one of your children is overreacting…
- thumping a sibling,
- hitting you,
- having meltdowns at the smallest provocation, or at least at minor setbacks,
…and you’re finding that it’s causing a lot of stress and heartache in the family, what I’m sharing here could be really useful.
Watch the video, or scroll down to see more…
- It might be that this occurs in the home in everyday situations. Perhaps your child comes into a room and finds you playing with their sibling. That may be a reason for them to be upset and start throwing things. Or perhaps they just see their sibling – and thump them. You may have no idea where it’s come from. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your child, never knowing what might set them off.
- Or perhaps you’re finding that you’re not able to go out – or you’re reluctant to do so because you never know when your child is going to do something unpredictable. You never know when they’re going to explode or run off or get upset. If your child is having meltdowns over minor setbacks or frustrations when you’re out and about, it may feel embarrassing. You might feel it reflects badly on you. I don’t believe this, by the way, but these may be the thoughts that you’re having.
- Or it may be simply that your child is reluctant to do the normal things like visit the doctor, dentist, or hairdresser. You’re holding back on booking these appointments because you don’t know how they’re going to react and it can be awkward and difficult to go through with whatever procedure needs to happen.
When these kinds of things are happening in the family, it can feel like one child is holding the whole family hostage.
To start with, I invite you to recognise that, if these kinds of things are happening with your child, it’s not that they won’t listen or they won’t follow expectations, it’s that they just can’t – yet.
Two points to bear in mind here:
Firstly, that’s why methods like rewards and punishments, “thinking time” and timeout just don’t work.
This is actually really good news, because if you’re using those methods, it takes a lot of effort, doesn’t it? You really don’t need to be doing all these things. (And you also don’t need to worry that you’ll lose authority if you stop.)
I’m actually here to take a stand against methods being promoted to parents that skew your relationship with your children, as these methods do.
And they really don’t work. They may work a little bit in the short term, but in the long term they don’t because, as one of my clients once said, “We’re all humans, aren’t we?”
Children are just littler humans, so we need to learn to get on with them, connect with them and build relationships.
Relationship is your fastest and most fulfilling route to a happy family.
So, if your child is exploding like this, you can assume they are having more intense emotions over minor setbacks than you might expect, and they don’t know what to do with them.
Secondly, if your child has experienced negative reactions to their reactions, that could be compounding the situation as well, because when our children feel our disapproval it can give a situation a particular charge.
Because, when your child meets a typical setback, they may anticipate that the way they’re about to respond is going to be disapproved of. They learn to expect that negative reaction.
All of that can get bundled and whirled into one in a confusing way and it naturally makes the situation worse.
So how can you deal with your child’s big feelings without adding to them, and really help your child, showing them how to process their emotions in a more healthy way?
#1 – Express Understanding
The first step is to express understanding for whatever’s going on for them. Get curious – get really interested in how this whole situation might look to them, even if it seems really minor and trivial to your eyes, because if they’re having a reaction like that, it’s looking different to them.
Your child is seeing it in a different light. And it’s that perspective that we parents need to understand.
When we begin understanding, the whole situation changes.
I’ll give you an example. I’m thinking of a dad who was enjoying a morning playing with one of his children, and it was the child who typically reacts more explosively. They were having a great time playing, getting on really well on the floor together.
Dad momentarily turned away to talk to his other child, a reasonable thing to do, and the first child went ballistic. This dad just didn’t understand why this happened.
He was spending time with his child, having connected time together, and even so, the child wasn’t able to cope with this minor setback.
I pointed out that when we turn away, the person we’ve been engaging with can feel a bit left behind. It’s like when you’re out with a friend in a cafe for example, and their phone goes. They’re off, talking to another friend and you just feel a bit left out.
As adults, we can cope. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Perhaps they needed to take that call. But for a child, it can feel like a big deal when they’re beloved parent turns away. We have to imagine that we are like gods to them.
What I suggested to this dad was to say something like, ‘Oh, was it a shock when I turned away to talk to your sister?’
When we express understanding in this way, the situation can change entirely because your child feels seen – instead of feeling disapproved of, as they might have previously.
They feel understood, which is a totally different feeling and helps them soften and relax, taking the heat out of the situation.
#2 – Create Safety
Actions speak louder than words.
If there’s been an incident in the park or at a gathering, just go straight home. And I’m not talking about minor things, but supposing, as can happen, that your child throws a stone at another child, or perhaps pushes someone off a piece of equipment, I would just quietly and kindly – without drama, making a point or threats – just go home.
If situations like this are happening repeatedly, perhaps in a certain context or place, maybe don’t go there for a while. Because actions really do speak louder than words and you don’t need to make a big point of it.
The main thing about creating safety in this way is that it’s not punitive. That’s really important, in fact, that there isn’t even a hint of punishment around this. It is all about creating safety.
If your child has thrown a toy – used it as a missile – you just take it and say, ‘I’m going to keep everyone safe and put it away for a while.’
And I don’t mean a couple of minutes, I mean for a few days, without making a big thing.
Your child will get a really strong message that you care without feeling disapproved of.
This is so powerful and will give them food for thought in a positive way – that “thinking time” doesn’t.
#3 – Offer an Alternative
Offer them another, safer way to express that anger.
I once worked with a woman who offered her child yoga blocks to throw out of the back door, or it could be that you do some stamping together or some thumping of a cushion or the sofa.
It might be that you join in with the energy of it: obviously, you’re not going to join in with real anger. There might be some acted anger. If you’re good at that kind of thing, you may be able to move it over into humour, because that can really work.
You ride on the emotion, and as you ride on it, you help your child transform it into something lighter. The message here is that it’s okay to be angry. You’re not just saying it’s okay to be angry, but you’re giving them a channel for that anger that is safe and legitimate, and this can help too.
If I had to say which of three above steps is the most important, I would say number one, expressing understanding
In order to express understanding, we need to have understanding, and having understanding for our children and why they’re reacting in these ways is about the most important step we can take.
When we have understanding, we soften, we feel different. We expand in our awareness and we are more able to include them. And this changes everything.
If this leaves you still feeling perplexed as to why your child’s reactions are so strong (like the dad I mentioned earlier) let’s have a conversation.
Because I have a superpower, which is that if you tell me the situations that are coming up with your child, I can help you understand why that’s coming up for your child and why they’re expressing it in that way.
I’ll help you understand their point of view, what they’re feeling, what’s going on in their mind and heart.
These calls are totally free.
I invite you to click on one of the pink links to book one for yourself . I open up a few of these calls every month and you can choose a time that suits you.
For 45 minutes, via a video call, we’ll talk everything through, and I’ll be able to lift the veil for you on what’s happening for your child.
Many parents find that even after a conversation like this, things change. It’s as if the clouds part – their children settle down and they feel better. They feel they have more understanding for their children.
If you would like a call like this click here to get yourself booked in. I’d love to speak to you.
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